Brad Hunter

Brad Hunter was the Chief Economist at HomeAdvisor from 2016 through 2018.

Hunter joined the company in 2016 and led HomeAdvisor’s economic research and analysis on the home improvement industry, home remodeling data and the U.S housing market. Hunter informs HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Report, an annual report that analyzes homeowner spending, and the HomeAdvisor Farnsworth Index, a quarterly survey that measures industry confidence among service professionals.

Hunter has been invited to speak at numerous industry conferences, and is regularly cited in local, national and trade publications, including CNBC, Bloomberg News, Forbes, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Prior to joining HomeAdvisor, Hunter was Chief Economist and Director of Consulting for Metrostudy, where he orchestrated hundreds of area-specific housing market studies over his 20 years at the firm.

Hunter holds a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University.

Most Recent Posts:

Home with lights on while sun is setting

Appreciation Slows Amid Worsening Affordability

September 25, 2018 More Homeowners Will Stay Put New data from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index of home prices shows that the pace of home price increase is still elevated, but is finally starting to slow, as we had been anticipating. The 20-City Composite posted a 5.9% year-over-year gain in July, down from 6.4% in…

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beautiful large home with pool at dusk with lights on

The Home Price Deceleration Has Begun

August 28, 2018 New data from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index of home prices shows that the pace of home price increase is still elevated, but is finally starting to slow, as was inevitable. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index showed a 6.2% annual rate of increase in June, down from 6.4% in…

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How Renters are Remodeling, and What Happens When They Buy?

Renters are Having Two Distinct Impacts A new study finds that renters are making two notable impacts on home improvement demand. They are taking on small projects in their rental units — installing closet systems, painting, wall-mounting the TV and hiding wires from their computer and surround sound systems. They are finally becoming homeowners in larger…

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People working on blueprint

U.S. Unemployment: What it Means for Homebuyers and Homeowners

August 3, 2018 The unemployment rate is hovering near an 18 year low and that is good… and bad. A low jobless rate is good because most people who want a job have a job, but an unemployment rate this low also creates some challenges. Having Trouble Finding Enough Workers Along with a very low…

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House for sale

Low Supply Forces Home Sales Lower (Again)

July 23, 2018 New data on existing home sales just out from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for June show that sales volume was once again down from the prior month (at 5.38 million, which was lower than 5.45 million expected by the consensus), and the estimate from the prior month was revised downward….

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Builders Are Not Keeping up with Demand

July 18, 2018 Housing production has remained lower than demand for the past eight years, ever since the housing market dusted itself off and started climbing back up from the bottom. Today’s number shows that this problem has worsened. Both single-family and apartment construction fell in the new data for June. Single-Family Construction Disappoints Single-family…

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Pile of rolled money
A house at night

Home Prices Fly High in the Mountains (But a Slowdown is Coming)

June 21, 2018 Home prices have risen 6.4% over the past twelve months, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  This covers the period from April 2017 to April 2018.  The rate of price increase was greatest in the Mountain Region, where prices rose 8.9%. Although the rate of appreciation was strong over the…

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Home Sales Decline Amid High Prices and Low Supply

June 20, 2018 New data on existing home sales just out from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for May show that sales volume is now 3.0 percent below a year ago and has fallen year-over-year for three straight months.  And NAR revised the number for the prior month downward, so the reading is even…

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HVAC maintenance man works under the sink near the dishwasher.
A rustic living room with a view of the Colorado mountains.

Which 5 States Had the Most Equity Gains in the Past Year?

In the past five years, the country’s homeowner equity has doubled – and this is driving billions of dollars’ worth of home improvement. But homeowners in which states are benefitting the most? According to a recent report from the mortgage data firm CoreLogic, five states stand out as the ones that have gained the most…

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A new roof on a home.

Why A New Roof May Cost You Zero Dollars (in the Long Run)

When a homeowner takes on a large home improvement project, they are generally doing it for their own benefit and enjoyment. And although they may anticipate the project will greatly increase the value of the home, most projects only add a small portion to the total. However, the best-of-all-worlds home improvement projects do exist –…

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Yellow house sitting on dollar bills
A newly remodeled basement with a pool table

Why So Many Millennial Homeowners Are Remodeling Their Basements

Millennials are just starting to break into home ownership, but affordability is still a challenge. While dreams of owning their own home may have come true, many millennial homeowners may not have been able to put an offer on their dream home – and had to settle for an older home with some differed maintenance,…

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What to do when your home floods.

Five Home Projects to Address Immediately After Your House Has Flooded

The impact a Category 3 or 4 hurricane can have on your most valuable asset – your home – can be disastrous, and incredibly overwhelming. Depending on the storm and its staggering effects, homeowners might face a number of devastating problems: from feet of standing water in the living room, to trees and debris spread…

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Homes in a row in a neighborhood

Why Low Housing Inventory Leads to High Home Improvement Spending

Home shoppers around the country are frustrated. There aren’t enough homes for sale that meet their needs, and those that are available are often the subject of high price bidding wars. It’s no wonder that so many homeowners – Baby Boomers in particular — are finding it more sensible to stay in their current home…

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A bright kitchen with white marble countertops and wooden chairs.

The Five Most Popular – And Most Expensive – Home Improvement Projects

Homeowners across the nation are not only spending more money on remodeling – they’re tackling much larger, more aesthetic and more expensive home improvement projects than five or six years ago. Instead of just replacing a faucet and handle, they’re upgrading the whole sink (…and what good is an updated sink if it’s next to…

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Family home with patio and landscaping in the summer

Why the Home Improvement Industry is Worth Billions

The home improvement industry is big – and it’s only getting bigger. A doubling of the average homeowner’s equity in the past five years has stimulated steady growth, allowing home improvement spending to grow nearly twice as fast as the rest of retail. But how did it get to this point? And what’s in store…

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Three Reasons Landscapers Are So Optimistic About Their Business

Each quarter, HomeAdvisor works with The Farnsworth Group — the top market research firm in the home improvement space — to conduct a survey among nearly 2,000 home service professionals to measure confidence in both their business and the industry. Q2 results are in, and landscaping companies are rolling in the green and mowing over…

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Today’s Resale Housing Market: Searching High and Low

June 21, 2017 New data on existing home sales just out from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show strong demand in the month of May.  As a matter of fact, demand was stronger than expected, based upon the average forecasts of economists nationwide.   The new NAR report highlights that inventories are extraordinarily low right…

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Heard at NAREE: Ugly Homes Transformed…for Profit

June 19, 2017NAREE, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, always attracts thought leaders and interesting speakers to their national conference in Denver, and last week’s was no exception. I wanted to share some points made by other speakers that I found to be of interest. Of particular interest to me was the panel of…

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New Home Production is Falling Behind

May 24, 2017 The latest monthly data on new home sales showed a bit of a pullback, but the overall trend continues to be solidly positive.  The spring selling season is going extremely well for most builders, and pricing power for them is proving to still be strong so far, even in the face of…

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Home Depot Earnings – Spring 2017

May 18, 2017 The home improvement industry is growing almost twice as fast as the rest of consumer retail.  Homeowners are increasingly willing to open their wallets when it comes to investing in their homes. The latest data point adds further evidence of this trend:  sales at Home Depot stores in the quarter were $23.9…

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Home Builder Confidence and Lot Supplies

New Lot Development is Not Keeping Up With Demand Builder confidence indicators show that home builders are extremely confident. That said, the pace of new construction fell in April (-2.6% versus March, and essentially flat versus a year ago).  We see the overall pace of new home construction as still rising at a modest pace; I…

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graph of percentage of "location within home" for Aging-in-Place Modifications

Modifications for Independent Living: Going Beyond Grab Bars and Ramps

May 3, 2017 (Percentage of “location within home” for Aging-in-Place Modifications) A key factor driving the current surge in home improvement relates to the changing needs of the baby boom generation.  Age and mobility-related modifications are already a $13 billion sector of the economy, and growing rapidly.  More importantly, this surge will incorporate a broader…

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New Report: Home Improvement Per-Household Jumps 57%

In our new HomeAdvisor report, we revealed the findings of our latest survey of homeowners.  This random sample of 500 homeowners reported that they have increased their expenditure on home improvement/repairs/maintenance by 57% in the past twelve months.  At $5,157 during the last twelve months, this is also a higher level of per-household spending than…

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Index of Remodeler Sentiment Shows “Extreme” Confidence

April 11, 2017We at HomeAdvisor have just launched a new quarterly index of sentiment among home improvement contractors.  In collaboration with The Farnsworth Group, we surveyed 1,744 companies, asking their leadership about their current and expected future business prospects.  For more comprehensive results, methodology, and survey dates, explore the detailed data, and watch for ongoing quarterly…

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Twin Engines of Growth: Confidence and Home Equity

March 23, 2017 Homeowners in the U.S. have become wealthier just by being homeowners.  According to the Federal Reserve’s household flow of funds data, the average homeowner went from $85,000 in home equity in the year 2011 to $167,000 in 2015.  As of today, in early 2017, the average homeowners equity is more than DOUBLE…

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Impressive Resilience Seen in Single-Family Construction Data

March 16, 2017 New data from the Commerce Department shows that the market for new single-family homes continued to strengthen as apartment-building construction weakened.  Single-family construction rose 6.5% in February from the previous month, while multifamily construction fell 3.7%.  As we had been predicting, multifamily construction has started to soften, following an extremely strong multi-year…

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Builder Confidence Back to 2005 (Peak!) Levels

Home builders are feeling more confident than they have any time since the (2005) peak of the housing market.  Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped six points to a level of 71 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since June…

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Harvard Report: Takeaways and Further Thoughts

February 28, 2017 I just read the new report called “Improving America’s Housing: Demographic Change and the Remodeling Outlook” The Harvard Joint Center, as always, did a fantastic job summarizing the key trends and issues. Here are some of my takeaways and thoughts. Not One, but Two 900-Pound Gorillas (The Boomer and Millennial Generations) The…

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Home Depot’s Strong Results and The Outlook for Home Improvement

February 21, 2017 With more homeowners feeling flush from a sustained rise in their property value, home improvement spending is on the rise, and The Home Depot has once again nailed down its position as the leader in the home improvement retail business, $22.2 billion in sales in the fourth quarter, beating analysts’ predictions averaging…

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KBIS 2017 logo

Quoteables from KBIS

February 1, 2017 Credit: KBIS Record attendance at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in January illustrates the growth in this sector of the home improvement industry.  I heard a lot of insightful discussions about the industry at KBIS, which inspired me to jot down some valuable nuggets and merge them with my own…

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“Heard in the Halls” at KBIS

     January 20, 2017 Just back from KBIS (the Kitchen and Bath show in Orlando), and I was struck by how overwhelmingly positive and optimistic the mood was. I met three business owners who have businesses that are unable to keep up with all the requests they are getting for their home improvement services…

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Leading Indicator Points to 6.7% Growth in 2017

(Photo from Joint Center of Housing Studies) One of the indicators I like to watch is the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), put out by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.  The latest update is out now, and it incorporates new data from the Census Bureau (the American Housing Survey).  The new Census…

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White House

Home Improvement and the White House

January 3, 2017 The election of a new president can have both positive and negative effects on the economy — and on the home improvement industry in particular. There is a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead no matter your ideology. Here’s a look at some possible scenarios. On the positive side, tax cuts…

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Prospective 2017 Home Improvement Trends: First-Timers and Fixer-Uppers

January 3, 2017 2017’s prospective home improvement trends are starting to come into better focus — and all signs point to a surge in first-time home buyers and home improvement spending.  In fact, HomeAdvisor’s 2017 forecast calls for a continued dwindling of “distress” and a continued increase in the number of “normal” home sales. And…

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Home office edited image

Five Things To Know About Home Office Attitudes and Trends

December 13, 2016 Shift in Home Office Trends Home offices became increasingly popular during the 1990s and 2000s, but as of the last few years, some renovation pros are seeing a decline in the demand for home improvement services related to working from home. More and more people are working from home, so why the…

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The 2017 Housing Market Forecast

The 2017 housing outlook is one of diverging trends. HomeAdvisor’s forecast calls for single-family housing to rise at a rate similar to the 2016 rate, but for multifamily construction (apartments and condos) to fall, as the recent apartment boom finally winds down. The single-family home increase is because of job growth and rising household formations,…

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Well cared for room

When Mortgage Rates Rise, Home Improvement Will Follow

November 29, 2016 By: Brad Hunter, HomeAdvisor’s Chief Economist As mortgage rates increase over the next few years, home improvement activity is likely to increase with them. This may seem counter intuitive, but you can expect two somewhat opposing effects: one highly positive and one slightly negative. Negative Effect The negative effect will stem from…

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Single-Family Home Sales: The West is the Best

November 23, 2016 Sales of new single-family houses in October 2016 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 563,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 1.9% below the revised September rate of 574,000. That said, the number is 17.8%…

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How to Think About the New Housing Data

November 17, 2016 The new data on housing starts just came out, showing a 25.5% increase in the month of October (seasonally-adjusted percent increase from September, which was revised upward). Although most of the improvement was due to a 74.5% increase in multifamily construction, single-family starts increased nicely as well (up 10.7%). I hasten to…

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Home Depot Sales Beating the Rest of the Economy

November 15, 2016 Retail sales, across all types of stores, have shown significant improvement, but Home Depot continues to run rings around many other types of retail. Home Depot just completed their conference call with industry analysts, and they described their business results for their fiscal third quarter. I jotted down some of the key…

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More Evidence on the “Nesting is Investing” Trend

November 11, 2016 Recent comments from home products manufacturers on their quarterly earnings calls supports our thesis that people are finally getting around to taking on long-deferred home improvements.  Homeowners are now more readily upgrading to higher-quality products.  I was reading some research from UBS’ excellent industry analyst Sue Maklari, and she cited some comments from…

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Senior-friendly kitchen

Kitchens and Baths with a “Thriving in Place” Spin

Want in on a multi-billion-dollar business opportunity? Specialize in thriving-in-place projects. Roughly 108 million U.S. citizens have surpassed age 50—and the majority of them wish to live comfortably and independently in their homes for as long as possible. The reality is that most of these people will have to modify their existing homes to make…

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Aging (“Thriving”) in Place: A $13 Billion Opportunity

The Opportunity I have commented on the “billion-dollar” opportunity for home improvement aimed at what we call “Thriving in Place.” Now I have a number to attach to it. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University has studied the industry thoroughly and found that the market for this kind of renovation is $13…

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The Third-Quarter HomeAdvisor Report: The Taming of the Resale

October 4, 2016 On homeowners’ minds: taming those overgrown plants, bugs, and pesky critters!  In the third quarter of 2016, the nation’s homeowners increased their orders for services related to pest control, lawn care, and landscaping faster than they did for any other categories of home services. New data from HomeAdvisor, which compare the third…

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Granite kitchen counters

Lifestyle Investments Drive Kitchen and Bath Remodeling

Remodeling is on the rise, and consumers are now tackling larger kitchen and bathroom renovations than in previous years.  Whole-room remodels are the kinds of discretionary (as opposed to immediately-necessary) projects that typically get put off when the economy is soft.  Now that the lingering effects of the recession have mostly faded, homeowners are feeling…

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A Case-in-Point: Smart-Home Tech and the Elderly

Earlier this week, I attended the “Remodeling Futures Conference” held at the Harvard Faculty Club, and put on by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.  There was a record turnout, including members of the remodeling industry, academia, industry associations, and government (Census Bureau).   There was a focus on home automation, covering smart-home trends,…

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Darker Finish Cabinets

Nesting Is Investing

HomeAdvisor Chief Economist Brad Hunter reports consumers are becoming more cautious with their money, which has positive implications for home improvement spending. Last week Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s all reported disappointing first quarters and experienced big stock price declines. Folks are shopping at the discount chains (or online) instead of at Macy’s, and the key theme is that they are trying to make their dollars go farther.

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Outlook for Home Improvement Continues to Brighten

May 21, 2016 It’s been a busy day for remodeling trends and stats, and the news is decidedly positive. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) released their RMI (Remodelers Index) and the Harvard Joint Center released their LIRA (Leading Indicator for Remodeling). They both showed that more remodelers are seeing increases than decreases. The forward-looking…

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Report from PCBC: New Home Construction

July 6, 2016 I just got back from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) in San Francisco, and I heard some positive sentiment (Brexit shock notwithstanding) from builder executives. The level of traffic through showrooms and the quality of traffic have improved, supporting the pace of sales so far this selling season. Builders Focus on…

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Remodeling & The Economy

Remodeling, Jobs, and Consumer Wherewithal

June 8, 2016 The recent poor performance of labor markets adds to concerns that consumers are pulling in their horns. Retail sales at major department store chains have been dismal.  Despite this, home-improvement spending has held up well. It will be important to watch measures of consumer confidence to see if the public psyche weakens…

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Home Improvement and “Churn”

February 11, 2016 The number of home improvement projects underway at any given time depends heavily on what I call “churn,” or the rate of turnover as it relates to homes.  The rate of churn across America has rebounded since the Great Recession — and with an increase in churn has come an increase in…

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